Summary and Analysis
Part 1: Chapter XXXI-XXXII
Sancho continues to answer the persistent questions of Don Quixote regarding the appearance, dress, activities, and remarks of Dulcinea when she received the letter. Sancho is exceedingly relieved when the curate calls for a rest and refreshment at a roadside fountain. While they are eating, a youth stops before the knight. "Do you not remember poor Andrew," he says, "whom you had caused to be untied from a tree?" Don Quixote loudly recounts his valor in the affair and charges the boy to tell everyone the story and its successful aftermath. "Yes, my master repaid me," sadly and bitterly answers the youth. "No sooner had you gone, than he lashed me to the tree and gave me so many cuts with the strap that I have been in a hospital ever since. Had you not meddled and so insulted my master, my poor back would not have received the brunt of his anger." The company can hardly suppress laughter, and poor Andrew continues on his way, hungrily seizing the crust of bread and slice of cheese that Sancho offers him.
After another day of riding, the company arrives again at the inn where Sancho received his blanketing. Don Quixote goes to take a rest while the others sit down to dine, served by the landlord, his wife and daughter, and Maritornes the scullery maid. The innkeeper, in the course of conversation, confesses himself such a lover of chivalric romances that "I could sit and read them from morning to night." He says, too, that he has "half a mind to be a knight myself." The curate, as he used to do with Don Quixote, begins an argument with the landord about books of chivalry, and they heatedly compare the merits of two famous knights. Dorothea admits that the ignorant innkeeper is close to becoming another Don Quixote for his belief in the truth of history of certain fabled knights. The curate is curious to read a manuscript left at the inn by a previous lodger, and for the diversion of the company, he reads aloud from the papers.
Although the parallel between the innkeeper and Don Quixote is clear with regard to their implicit belief in the most extravagant fables found in books of chivalry, as well as their inspiration from deeds of knights, the differences in their characters are more outstanding. The innkeeper remains at home, perfectly sane, because he is content to let the world run as it is so long as he can continue cheating it. Don Quixote, on the other hand, wishes to play a more noble and heroic role in the world and reform it. Thus the madness of the knight is a direct consequence of his nobility of character, whereas the utter sanity of the innkeeper is due to his being perfectly commonplace.